Naan Stop: NYC Indian Dining
by Julie Besonen, 02/05/2013
Tamarind Tribeca. Photo: Will Steacy
41-43 E. 22nd St., 212-674-7400, Flatiron District, Manhattan
99 Hudson St., 212-775-9000, TriBeCa, Manhattan
The original Tamarind opened in the Flatiron District in 2001. It's a sophisticated gem that's not just a great Indian restaurant but a great restaurant, period. Snippet overheard, spoken by a regular: "There are restaurants that spike and others that stay steady. This is one of those places." Traditional trappings—portraits of Ganesh; elaborately carved woodwork; dark, vibrant fabrics—are nowhere in evidence. The extensive space is done in pale, muted colors, the upscale clientele inclined toward cocktails and wine, not beer. She-crab soup sounds more South Carolina than subcontinent, but ginger and saffron keep it within the realm. It's a marvel—intricate, spicy, lightly creamy and redolent of fresh herbs. Even those most skittish of Indian food will be won over by Kerala fish curry and grilled scallops with coconut-mint sauce. Owner Avtar Walia expanded the brand in 2010 with Tamarind Tribeca, an even grander, bi-level venue. The menu has different offerings but similarly exotic, thrilling spices—and likewise caters to well-dressed types who've more feasibly gone to India for business than to look within at an ashram.